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More About MISSION US

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Watch a preview of MISSION US in use in the classroom.

MISSION US was developed by WNET.ORG, New York’s public media company. This groundbreaking initiative is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting with additional support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Goals of the Project

MISSION US aims to reach today’s tech-savvy kids "where they live," inviting them to be “players” during pivotal eras in the country’s past. The content helps students understand and appreciate multiple perspectives and gain a more nuanced view of history. “For Crown or Colony?” provides kids with insight into the mind sets of both Patriots and Loyalists.

“This innovative offering — available free online — is designed to serve a teen and tween audience that grew up watching outstanding kids’ programs on PBS.” said Neal Shapiro, WNET.ORG president and CEO. “Using the most popular medium in kids’ lives today, MISSION US gets students interested in learning about history by allowing them to experience dramatic historical events as if they were there,” said Patricia de Stacy Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Design and Content

The stylized approach to design used in MISSION US has the flavor of anime and 2D casual Web-based games that have grown in popularity as alternatives to console games. The design, like the content, is informed by the latest scholarship. The development team includes historians from the American Social History Project (ASHP) at CUNY, researchers from Education Development Center’s Center for Children and Technology (CCT), and game developers from Electric Funstuff.

Student Use and Benefits

Designed for use at home or in school, the game is divided into five parts, and may be played individually or collaboratively. MISSION US helps students with different learning styles acquire skills critical for understanding history that are identified in state and national education standards. In addition to the game, the MISSION US Website offers numerous downloadable resources and activities for classroom use, including document-based questions, a primary source collection, vocabulary activities, background on historical figures, writing prompts, and visual aids.

Teachers who participated in classroom tests of “For Crown or Colony?” reported that students were more intellectually and emotionally engaged during the MISSION US unit than in the typical unit they teach. It helped their students see the events leading to the American Revolution in more human terms that they could understand.

Future of the Project

“For Crown or Colony?” is the first of five games planned in the MISSION US project. Each of the missions will challenge players to take on the role of a young character living through a significant time in American history.

In “Flight to Freedom,” slated for release in 2011, players will assume the role of a runaway slave, as they explore events leading up to the Civil War. This game is partly set in Kentucky!

Roles under consideration for future missions include an assistant involved in the race to complete the transcontinental railroad, a muckraking journalist in early 20th century New York, and a member of an Oklahoma family that migrates to California during the Great Depression.